It Started with Wendy
During the 2020 election cycle when Massachusetts resident Wendy Machmuller contacted her seven nieces and nephews in Iowa. She challenged each of them to become the family’s most effective activist. How could they win points in the weeks-long competition, demonstrating their outstanding activism? One way was for the nieces and nephews to get their friends involved as volunteers for Cindy Axne’s congressional campaign. Wendy also gave points when her nieces’ and nephews’ friends cast votes for Axne. Even though Wendy was living in Massachusetts, through her relatives, she convinced at least 10 people to vote for Cindy Axne who might have not otherwise.
Just 10 Votes Can Make a Huge Difference
We get it: 10 votes may sound insignificant, but consequential elections can be won or lost by a surprisingly small number of votes. For example, Julia Mejia won an at-large seat on Boston’s city council in 2019 by one vote! In 2020, Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks beat Democrat Rita Hart by just six votes in Iowa’s Second Congressional District. Had just one person like Wendy used her network to influence seven people to vote for Rita Hart, Hart could have won the election.
Inspired by Wendy — Swing Blue’s Organizational Challenge
Swing Blue Alliance mobilizes volunteers, trains organizers, and adopts new tools and strategies to put more Democrats in office. After hearing about Wendy’s approach, Swing Blue decided to launch a similar form of organizing for the upcoming 2022 midterms.
Rather than starting with lists of registered or likely voters, volunteers start with their personal contacts. The campaign is based on two ideas: first, a message from someone you know and trust is more persuasive than a cold call or campaign advertisement, and second, one of the firmest findings in political science is that turnout, while difficult, is much easier than persuasion, which is nearly impossible (Edelman, 2020), so focusing on activating relatives and friends is where most of us can have an impact.
Volunteers who join the Swing Blue Organizational Challenge (SBOC) will recruit their family members and friends with the goal of having them contact their family, friends, coworkers, etc. who are living in the same state or district of the competitive race to encourage them to vote and act in the upcoming midterms.
Ready to Compete in Swing Blue’s Organizational Challenge?
Now is the perfect time to let us know if you are interested in participating in the SBOC. At present, interns and volunteers have identified key states like New Hampshire and Florida selected based on the number of competitive races, including secretary of state races as well as congressional and gubernatorial races.
Interns and volunteers are reaching out to the Swing Blue community of volunteers and seeing if they have any family members or friends who can participate in the competition. Point person Joanne Morris is working with a cohort of eight activists who will be among the first to launch the new competition. Those who sign up will receive support such as emails with tips and sample social media messages with illustrations. Join an information session to learn more!
Swing Blue is excited to work with you, along with your friends and relatives, on this relational campaign! Your vote counts, and your contact list matters. Please help get out the vote!
Pasha Sahin is a rising junior at UMass Amherst majoring in political science. Pasha dreams of working for the United Nations or at an embassy as a diplomat.
Edelman, Garid. January 22, 2020. The Next Campaign Text You Get May Be From a Friend. Wired. https://www.wired.com/story/relational-organizing-apps-2020-campaign/